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'Come, let's all protect Jerusalem': Islamic and political officials maintain boycott of al-Aqsa Open in fullscreen

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'Come, let's all protect Jerusalem': Islamic and political officials maintain boycott of al-Aqsa

East Jerusalem has been under Israeli occupation since 1967. [Getty]

Date of publication: 25 July, 2017

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Muslim officials in Jerusalem on Tuesday said Palestinian worshipers should continue to boycott the al-Aqsa mosque compound after Israel announced it would remove new security measures which sparked deadly clashes.
Muslim officials in Jerusalem on Tuesday said Palestinian worshipers should continue to boycott the al-Aqsa mosque compound after Israel announced it would remove new security measures which have sparked days of deadly clashes.

Earlier, Israel announced that it was removing metal detectors at the sensitive holy site in occupied East Jerusalem in a bid to defuse escalating violence.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's office said that while the metal detectors would be removed, they would be replaced with "security inspection based on advanced technologies and other means".

The statement failed to elaborate on the form the future smart security measures will take.

The Israeli cabinet said police would also increase the deployment of its forces until the new measures are in place, while the government would budget $28 million to implement the security plan over the next six months.

Muslim leaders in Jerusalem, however, rejected the announcement, demanding that arrangements go back to how they were before the new measures were announced.

"No entry into al-Aqsa mosque until after an assessment by a Waqf technical committee and the return of the situation to how it was before the 14th of this month," read a statement from the Waqf, the Islamic endowments organisation which administers the mosque compound.

The Arab League has accused Israel of "playing with fire" with the new security measures in Jerusalem, while Palestinians in Jerusalem have mobilised en-masse, boycotting entry to the al-Aqsa mosque and praying instead in surrounding city streets.

Erdogan urges 'all Muslims' to protect Aqsa

Israeli work crews removed the metal detectors from one entrance to the compound in the early hours of Tuesday, while cameras installed on Sunday were also gone, an AFP correspondent said.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, meanwhile, on Tuesday urged all Muslims to visit and protect Jerusalem.

"From here I make a call to all Muslims. Anyone who has the opportunity should visit Jerusalem, al-Aqsa mosque," Erdogan said in Ankara, adding: "Come, let's all protect Jerusalem."

In a speech to ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) lawmakers in parliament, Erdogan said: "They are attempting to take the mosque from Muslim hands on the pretext of fighting terrorism. There is no other explanation."

He said Israel's legitimacy rested on the extent of the respect it showed to Palestinians and their rights.

Erdogan also denounced attacks on synagogues in Turkey, referring to reports that an ultra-nationalist group threw stones at a synagogue in Istanbul last week.

"It does not make sense to attack synagogues here because something has happened at al-Aqsa mosque. This does not suit our religion and it is not allowed," he said.

Days earlier, he had denounced the "excessive" use of force by Israeli forces in deadly clashes, speaking in his capacity as current chairman of the summit of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) whose chairmanship Turkey currently holds.

The OIC on Monday said "the issue of the al-Aqsa mosque is a red line."

"Attacking the al-Aqsa mosque in any way and under whatever pretext will have serious consequence and will lead to instability in the region," it added.

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